Date published: Monday 11th May 2020 12:39
More Alphabet League action, marvel at the Premier League M-team…
Goalkeeper: Nigel Martyn
Plenty of options for the number one position in the M-Team, with former Crystal Palace, Leeds and Everton keeper Nigel Martyn leading the pack. Martyn’s national career was spent as back-up to Yorkshire-born David Seaman but at club level he was part of a Leeds side competing for the Premier League title in the late 90s and early 2000s. During his stay at Elland Road he managed to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2001 but departed for Everton after Leeds began to suffer financial problems. If you fancy a goalkeeper challenge, try naming four former Sunderland keepers eligible for M-Team selection.
Right-back: Olof Mellberg
The proud owner of 117 international caps as well as a magnificent beard, Swedish legend Olof Mellberg takes the right-back slot in the M-Team. He spent seven years at Aston Villa and despite a lack of trophies, his blood and thunder performances made him a hero at Villa Park. Other options at right-back include former England international Danny Mills, Mario Melchiot and Chris Morris, one of Ireland’s 1990 World Cup heroes.
Centre-back: Paul McGrath
Like Morris, Paul McGrath was a member of Ireland’s memorable 1990 World Cup campaign and like Mellberg, he’s an Aston Villa legend. Still revered by the Villa Park faithful, he won the PFA Player of the Year in the 1992/93 season with his Villa side finishing as runners-up to Manchester United, a club McGrath spent seven seasons at in the ’80s. Even with his dodgy knees, he’d be a towering presence at the heart of the M-Team’s defence, with a huge pool of centre-backs available to play alongside him.
Centre-back: Harry Maguire
Manchester United captain and England’s current first-choice central defender, Harry Maguire would be a solid choice to line-up next to the Irish legend, with former north London defenders Per Mertesacker and Gary Mabbutt other great options. Leicester City’s title-winning captain Wes Morgan is also eligible for the side, alongside West Ham legend Alvin Martin, Joel Matip, Ben Mee, Tyrone Mings and Northern Irish international Gareth McAuley.
Left-back: Benjamin Mendy
Injury-prone Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy takes the left-back slot in the side, with the versatile James Milner able to fill in whenever the Frenchman has one of his customary spells on the sideline. Despite winning two Premier League titles, Mendy has yet to show the consistent form he produced in Ligue Un, where Mendy helped Monaco to the league title ahead of PSG in the 2016/17 season. He was also part of the side that knocked out his future employers in the Champions League that campaign, with Monaco winning on away goals at the last-16 stage of the competition.
Defensive midfield: Claude Makelele
M-Team boss Jose Mourinho will have a familiar face in his midfield, with Claude Makelele part of the Chelsea team that won two Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006. The Frenchman arrived at Stamford Bridge after a successful spell at Spanish giants Real Madrid and became the standard-bearer for all future defensive midfielders in the Premier League. Javier Mascherano and another former Mourinho lieutenant in the shape of Nemanja Matic provide excellent cover for Makelele in the holding role.
Central midfield: James Milner
When football eventually resumes, James Milner will join the late, great Gary Speed on 535 Premier League appearances; the fifth-highest of all time. Milner’s master of all trades career has seen him play for five Premier League clubs, winning the league title at Manchester City before achieving European success at Liverpool. His everlasting energy would be more than useful for the M-Team, whilst his dedication and professionalism would make him an instant Mourinho favourite.
Central midfield: Luka Modric
Makelele, Milner and Modric. Mourinho would probably still complain at the lack of central-midfield options. The Croatian playmaker and current holder of the World Cup Golden Ball spent four seasons at Spurs, where he made a name as one of the world’s most gifted players. Gaizka Mendieta would be a great back-up choice, whilst Mourinho would no doubt want Scott McTominay somewhere in his squad; Juan Mata less so. James Maddison and Mason Mount would be firmly labelled ‘not quite ready’ for Alphabet League football.
Wing-forward: Steve McManaman
McManaman was one of Makelele’s teammates in Real Madrid’s 2002 Champions League-winning side, having left Liverpool for a sunnier climate in 1999. The Merseyside-born midfielder left his hometown club after becoming one of the most feared players in the Premier League during the 1990s, with McManaman possessing the ability to tear defences apart. Other former Anfield stars who’ll have to settle for a spot on the bench include Steve McMahon, Jan Molby, Danny Murphy, Jason McAteer and 2000/01 hero Gary McAllister.
Wing-forward: Sadio Mane
A current Liverpool star fends off competition from Arsenal legend Paul Merson for a spot in the team, along with a player currently under Mourinho’s tutelage: Lucas Moura. Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez also misses out to Sadio Mane, with the Senegalese international currently in the form of his life at Anfield. As long they’re not forced to play as auxiliary full-backs, McManaman and Mane should combine well with the M-Team’s striker.
Striker: Anthony Martial
Manchester United forward Anthony Martial completes a devastatingly tricky front three for the M-Team. Imagine the havoc Modric could cause with those runners. There are a ridiculous number of strikers available for Mourinho, with Brighton striker Glenn Murray providing an altogether more direct option for the Portuguese boss. Others include Brian McClair, Brian McBride, Savo Milosevic, Aleksander Mitrovic, Fernando Morientes and Benni McCarthy, a Champions League winner with Mourinho at Porto.
James Wiles – whose Instagram has a whole load more XIs
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